What is Nerolidol? What Does This Cannabis Terpene Do?

Nerolidol is one of many different terpenes found within various plants, insects and essential oils.

Terpenes are aromatic oils and compounds that give fruits, plants, and some varieties of insects their unique aroma and smell.

In nature, these compounds have several purposes,  including attracting or repelling predators or pollinators, aiding in reproduction, and providing protection against the elements.

Within cannabis, pinene is one of the most abundant terpenes out of more than 150 different varieties, providing cannabis strains with their unique aroma, flavour and supposed effects. Terpenes are a critical component of consuming cannabis, but not many know what they are, where they come from, or their reported effects.

This article is part of a series on cannabis terpenes and is designed to highlight one of cannabis’ spiciest terpenes, nerolidol.

What is Nerolidol?

What is Nerolidol

Nerolidol is a naturally occurring sesquiterpene, a class of terpenes recognized for their strong odours, anti-inflammatory effects and bactericidal properties. Compared to monoterpenes, a family of terpenes that many cannabis terpenes belong to, sesquiterpenes are less volatile and more aromatic. In cannabis, crystal-like structures known as glandular trichomes are responsible for terpene production.

Nerolidol exists in two different varieties as cis-nerolidol and trans-nerolidol, each with different molecular structures. Also known as peruviol or penetrol, nerolidol has a mildly woody, floral-like scent.

Its strong aroma is produced and used in plants to deter insects and is naturally produced in flowers such as orchids, patchouli and jasmine, as well as oranges and tea tree oil. Nerolidol’s woody yet floral scent has made it a popular addition in many cosmetic, essential oil and skincare products, household cleaners and detergents, and food as a flavouring agent.

In addition to providing different cannabis strains with their unique aroma and flavour profile, studies suggest that terpenes can exhibit some pharmacological effects.

When combined with other cannabis terpenes and THC and CBD, a reaction known as the entourage effect may promote relaxation, stress relief, and other psychoactive effects. The entourage effect has some scientific basis backing for it, but research regarding its effects is inconclusive.

What are the Reported Effects of Nerolidol?

Like many other terpenes found within cannabis, nerolidol offers many potential benefits. Trials conducted on bacteria and animals have found that nerolidol has antioxidant properties, sedative effects and bactericidal potential.

In a 2016 study published in the BMC Neuroscience journal, researchers administered nerolidol to rats over a period of four weeks and discovered that the terpene protected against oxidative stress and activity. The researchers also raised nerolidol’s antioxidant potential and its possible use as a treatment for Parkinson’s disease and other neurological diseases.

Nerolidol is also anecdotally known to be a stress-reliever and powerful sedative. A study published in the Indian Journal of Pharmacology in 2016 found that nerolidol administered to mice lowered their anxiety levels without inhibiting motor function. Another study published three years from 2013 in the Neurochemical Research journal discovered that nerolidol had a sedative effect when exposed to animals.

Another study investigated the performance of trans-nerolidol as a skin-penetration enhancer. Since nerolidol is a popular ingredient in cosmetic and skincare products, the study concluded that the terpene may be used in the future to transdermally administer medicine more easily.

Additionally, the inclusion of nerolidol in cleansers and detergents may go beyond its fresh aroma. 

In a 2003 study, scientists found that this terpene was effective in reducing the defence of staphylococcus aureus and escherichia coli to antibiotics. They conclude that trans-nerolidol could help treat skin lesions and other skin concerns.

With such a plurality of research being conducted on trans-nerolidol, it’s easy to assume that these benefits transfer over to the consumption of the cannabis plant. However, an overwhelming majority of these studies have been conducted on animal models, not human trials. As such, nothing conclusive can be said about the benefits of this terpene.

Trans-Nerolidol and Science

Nerolidol is produced naturally in insects, flowers and oranges and is just one of many terpenes influencing the flavour and aroma of our favourite cannabis strains. Known for its woody yet floral-like scent, you can find this terpene as a major component in many indica and sativa strains available today.

As the most researched terpene, nerolidol’s potential within the medical community is immense. However,  more research has to be completed before this terpene can be deployed in a medicinal setting.

Please note that this content on limonene and terpenes is intended to act as entertainment and a general educative aid and is not intended to act as or substitute healthcare advice from a professional healthcare service or qualified healthcare provider. If you have any questions or concerns, please consult your physician or a qualified healthcare provider.

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